Exam time usually comes just as the weather turns fine and it’s hard to resist the sunny temptation to be anywhere outside, rather than stuck inside studying.
Heading into Summer 2020, students face very particular challenges. Because of COVID-19, you will not sit traditional exams, but alternative assessments, undertaken online to maintain social distancing.
Mostly, the same advice applies to preparing for your end-of-semester (or even end-of-degree) during COVID-19 as applies to every exam situation – but there are some exceptions.
Here are our Top Three evergreen tips and two tips specific to studying while social distancing:
Study Tip 1: Routine
Get up early, at the same time each day, plan your breaks and meal-times and stick to them. End your day with some relaxing leisure time. Remember to put *all* screens away an hour before you go to bed: your brain doesn’t need additional stimulation, it needs to wind-down. Avoid all-night study binges, as your brain is less likely to absorb information and you will only lose sleep.
Study Tip 2: Nutrition
Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day: often, we think we’re hungry when, actually we’re thirsty. Sugar, carbs and caffeine might make you feel energised in the short run but they burn fast and leave you feeling sluggish. Use your breaks from study to prepare balanced meals. Following a simple recipe will give your brain a change of pace from intense study.
Study Tip 3: Fresh Air and Exercise
Fresh air and natural light are good for you, in and of themselves. When you’re sitting, studying for hours at a time, movement is vital to sustain a healthy body. Right now, you must observe social distancing: avoiding crowds and keeping a distance of at least 2m between you and anyone you are not already living with. However, it is still possible to take a walk. If your local park seems too busy, simply take a stroll around your neighbourhood.
If you’re an active sportsperson or gym member, you probably already have an at-home workout plan. If you are not normally very active, The Irish Heart Foundation has some simple stretches as part of its Be Active guide, that can keep you moving even when bad weather keeps you indoors.
Social Distancing Study Tip 1
Normally there is some fluidity in shared living, with people in and out at different times, or with the student able to go to the college library for a change of scene and some guaranteed peace and quiet. A full living space where everyone has different tasks to complete is a real challenge – not just for you but for those around you. Speak to your family or your housemates. Acknowledge that you are asking them to curb their behaviour to help you and explain to them how much you appreciate this.
Implement a traffic light system – if you have a red sheet of paper on your door or on the wall beside your workspace, it means you cannot be disturbed at all, as you are working to a deadline; an orange piece of paper can indicate you are studying intensely, and they should consider if they really urgently need to talk to you before disturbing you. Green lets them know they can safely approach you, perhaps when you’re revising work you’re most comfortable with, or checking your To Do lists, and yes please, you would like a cup of tea. Remember to show equal respect to others in your living space, who are trying to do their own work or study.
Social Distancing Study Tip 2
You may not be able to meet them in person, but personal contact with your faraway family, friends and classmates is important. Use your phone or at least, if possible, bring your laptop to a different space, one you do not associate with study or work – even switching seats at the kitchen table will literally change your outlook!
Surprise a family member or set up a pre-arranged chat with classmates. Speaking aloud about what’s going on with you at the moment and listening to other people share their experiences puts everything in perspective. You don’t just benefit yourself by maintaining personal contact like this, it also makes you an important part of other people’s support network: you can be a social distancing hero!